Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and is a potentially serious condition. However, it can be effectively treated when found early. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of skin cancer and regularly performing self-examinations are crucial for early intervention. In this blog post, we will educate readers about the warning signs of skin cancer, emphasize the importance of regular skin checks, and provide guidance on performing self-examinations and seeking professional medical advice when necessary.
Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Unusual Moles or Lesions: Take note of moles or lesions that exhibit any of the ABCDE characteristics:
Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other.
Border Irregularity: The mole edges are uneven, notched, or poorly defined.
Color Variations: The mole displays multiple shades or colors within it.
Diameter: The mole is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
Evolution: The mole changes in size, shape, color, or texture over time.
New Growths or Sores: Be vigilant about any new growths, sores, or patches on your skin that fail to heal within a few weeks.
Changes in Existing Moles: Regularly monitor existing moles for any changes in size, shape, color, or texture, as these may indicate potential skin cancer.
The Importance of Regular Skin Checks
Early Detection is Key: Regular skin checks play a vital role in identifying skin cancer in its early stages, improving the chances of successful treatment and recovery.
Self-Examinations: Make self-examinations a monthly habit. Find a well-lit room and use a mirror or seek assistance from a partner to examine hard-to-see areas, such as your back, scalp, and behind your ears. Look for any unusual moles, growths, or changes in your skin.
Professional Skin Examinations: Schedule routine appointments with a dermatologist for professional skin examinations, particularly if you have a higher risk of skin cancer due to factors such as family history or excessive sun exposure.
Performing a Self-Examination
Conduct a thorough examination of your entire body, including areas not typically exposed to the sun, such as the soles of your feet and between your fingers and toes.
Use a well-lit room and a full-length mirror to inspect your body from head to toe. Employ a hand-held mirror for hard-to-see areas or ask for assistance if needed.
Pay close attention to any new growths, changes in existing moles, or abnormal skin features, as described in the signs and symptoms section.
When to Seek Professional Medical Advice
Any suspicious or concerning changes in your skin, such as new growths, sores, or moles that exhibit any of the ABCDE characteristics mentioned earlier, should prompt you to visit a dermatologist for further evaluation.
If you notice any changes that cause worry or discomfort, do not hesitate to seek medical advice. Trust your instincts and prioritize your health.
Early detection is paramount in the successful treatment of skin cancer. By familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms, conducting regular self-examinations, and seeking professional medical advice when necessary, you can significantly improve the chances of identifying skin cancer at an early stage. Remember the characteristics of abnormal moles, make self-examinations a routine, and consult a dermatologist for professional skin checks. Empower yourself with knowledge and take proactive steps to protect your skin health.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with skin cancer, the oncologists at New York Oncology Hematology are here to help. They will create a personalized treatment plan for you based on the type of skin cancer, location on the body and stage. Request an appointment at a location near you in the Albany area.